Dick Farman built a business as 'Pickle King'

The business started as an experiment many years ago, just a few acres of cucumbers waiting to be made into old-fashioned dills.

Dick Farman helped his brother in the endeavor, revisiting the work they shared as kids when they spent summers making pickles at a Libby's processing plant near their Kent home. This time, too, it was part time, at least at first.

But the pickles sold well, and the pair soon faced a choice, said Mr. Farman's son, Dick: keep pickling in their spare time or make it a full-time business. They chose to make it a business, and so began Farman Bros. Pickle Co.

Richard G. "Dick" Farman, who became known throughout the Northwest as the "The Pickle King," died Sunday at his West Seattle home from heart failure. He was 85.

Born in Belmond, Iowa, Mr. Farman was raised in Kent and graduated from Kent High School. He went on to Washington State University, playing guard for the Cougars. He was a durable player; records show that Mr. Farman played 589 minutes of a possible 600 in 1938, his senior year.

Drafted by the Washington Redskins in 1939, he played six seasons, winning a championship in 1942. In 1990, he was inducted into WSU's athletic hall of fame.

The Farman brothers started their pickle business in 1944. The two had opposite but complementary personalities, said Mr. Farman's son. Mr. Farman, who was quiet but easygoing, handled sales. His brother, who was less comfortable with the public, oversaw production.

For nearly 50 years, the company's production and canning operations made Enumclaw smell like pickles.

But in 1987, Farman Bros. Pickle Co. was acquired by Tacoma-based Nalley Fine Foods. A year later, Nalley moved Farman Bros. and its 14 varieties of pickles, relish and sauerkraut from Enumclaw to Tacoma. The brand is still available in many Northwest grocery stores.

While work kept him busy, Mr. Farman also found time to volunteer in the West Seattle community through the West Seattle Kiwanis Club, the YMCA and his church, Seaview United Methodist.

Besides his son from Olympia, Mr. Farman is survived by his wife of 61 years, Harriet; daughter Carrie Boulet of Puyallup; brother Herb Farman of Bremerton; four grandchildren; and two great grandchildren.

Services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at Seaview United Methodist, 4620 S.W. Graham St., Seattle (WA 98136).

The family requests that memorials be sent to the church's memorial fund or the West Seattle YMCA, 4515 36th Ave. S.W., Seattle, WA 98126; or the American Heart Association, 1101 S. Fawcett Ave., Tacoma, WA 98402.

Frank Vinluan can be reached at 206-464-2291 or fvinluan@seattletimes.com.